The Government hit almost 80% of its target to encourage a million healthy swaps as part of its Great New Year Swapathon, according to the Department of Health.

The total swaps started online and the number of vouchers redeemed for money off fruit and vegetables at Asda and healthy activities during the three-week January campaign hit 780,000.

A total of 650,000 vouchers were redeemed and 120,000 online swaps took place, the DoH claims. The Swapathon site says only 25,865 were started, but DoH deputy marketing director Sheila Mitchell said the larger number reflects people who took part in swaps but didn’t register.

The Department of Health social marketing team recorded a 1.5% redemption rate for clementines specifically, and a 1% rate for other fruit and vegetables such as grapes and potatoes.

Average redemption rates for free product vouchers distributed in newspapers can be anything from 1% to 15% depending on the perceived value of the product being given away, according to promotion risk management experts PIMS-SCA.

The Government distributed 5m booklets containing £50 worth of Change4Life vouchers. More were distributed via promotional partnerships with Sunday tabloid News of the World and Asda, and also via GP surgeries.

Asda said 48% of its regular mums survey panel claimed to eat more healthily during the campaign, while 8% of those who weren’t regular Asda customers said they would consider shopping there more frequently.

General awareness of the Change4Life brand among mums was 84% immediately following the campaign, and 65% among all adults.

The DoH has released a selection of statistics on the campaign as part of an effort to attract new partners for a new campaign over the six-week school summer holiday period.

“We want to build on the Great Swapathon and run a campaign over a more sustained period to target families who struggle with kids over the summer holidays,” said DoH director of communications Sian Jarvis. “We want to avoid them going back to school after the holidays a bit fatter and not having done much.”

She’s looking for partners that can offer healthy products and activities to children and families over the summer, offer free gifts and promotions on products such as sports equipment to help children keep active, and help promote and distribute campaign messaging.

In return, the Government has expanded its retail guidance on products that can carry on-pack and point-of-sale Change4Life marketing. The list now includes oven chips and low-fat mayonnaise.

The summer effort is likely to be backed by above-the-line advertising including TV ads following the lifting of a freeze on ’non-essential’ marketing and allocation of £14m for 2011/12 to Change4Life marketing.

The decision to resume marketing followed an 80% drop in the number of people joining Change4life, a 90% drop in people phoning the helpline and a fall by two-thirds of people visiting the website.

The DoH said in a recent unpublicised three-year marketing strategy document that it “now recommend[s] that some advertising, and other forms of mass communication such as sponsorship, paid media partnerships and PR, be resumed.”

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Published 13 May, 2011 by NMA Staff

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